December was the wettest month on record for UK, says Met Office

Flooding in Kirkstall Road at Viaduct Road. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Flooding in Kirkstall Road at Viaduct Road. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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December was the wettest month on record for the UK, provisional figures from the Met Office show.

The last month of 2015 was not only the wettest December on record, but the wettest calendar month overall in the records dating back to 1910.

It was also the UK’s warmest December on record, with temperatures averaging 7.9C (46.2F), which is 4.1C (7.4F) above the long term average.

Scientists warned more winter rainfall, warmer temperatures and more extreme weather were expected consequences of climate change for the UK.

Prof Piers Forster, professor of climate change at the University of Leeds, said: “The record breaking wet and warm December is not just due to climate change but I am sure that man-made climate change played a significant role.

“Warmer, wetter winters with increases in extreme rainfall are entirely expected and predicted responses to climate change.

“Physics tells us that the 4.1C warmer December would bring 30% heavier extremes of 24 hour rainfall rates, and this is what we saw across much of the north of the UK.”

Prof Meric Srokosz from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, said: “It is unsurprising that the UK is experiencing a warmer wetter winter, as this is what you would expect, and models predict, as the atmosphere warms and can hold more moisture.

“The effect is probably exacerbated by the strong El Nino currently occurring in the tropical Pacific which affects global weather patterns.”

Prof David Reay, professor of carbon management at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Temperature and rainfall records will inevitably tumble as climate change intensifies.”

While warmer, wetter winters, and hotter, drier summers were predicted for the UK, increasingly extreme weather was more important than changing averages.

“It is the increasingly extreme rainfall events, storm surges, heatwaves and droughts that will truly test our resilience to climate change. On the evidence of the past month we are far from prepared,” he warned.